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A Perfect Specimen: Black Swan State Theatre Company - Theatre Review

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by Chantelle Pitt (subscribe)
University Student. Freelance Writer. Frequent Netflix Watcher. All-Around Arts Enthusiast.
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Who are the real monsters in the world?
Based on a true story, A Perfect Specimen tells the tragic and true tale of Julia Pastrana, ape woman and the main attraction of a travelling freak show run by Theodore Lent, Julia's husband and boss.

Presented by Black Swan State Theatre Company, directed by Stuart Halusz and written by West Australian Playwright Nathaniel Moncrieff, A Perfect Specimen delves into the human psyche, questions moral behaviours and what is it exactly that makes a person a 'freak'. Is it their outward appearance despite their good-natured heart, or is it their seemingly ordinary appearance whilst inside them, the most immoral of creatures dwells in the darkness?

A Perfect Specimen, Black Swan, Perth, State Theatre
Black Swan State Theatre Company presents A Perfect Specimen


I have to say, the staging was a spectacular feat by all involved, namely set designer Frances Danckert. A revolving stage was a perfect choice for this piece as it provided the ability for quick and beautifully choreographed scene changes. I was a little confused as Adriane Daff aka the Ape Woman Julia, did not resemble an ape at all; as this was only the first preview night, I decided to let this not affect my overall experience of the play, but it did keep my mind open to the possibility that there was a more psychological element to her condition compared to the rest of the 'normal' characters. Fantastic accents by all the cast and I can see that the use of voice and dialect coach, Luzita Fereday, will have played a massive part in perfecting and maintaining the often stereotyped accents in the production; namely American and Russian.

As expected by Black Swan State Theatre Company, all of the actors did a fantastic job in their roles but if I was to give out a stand out performance award, I would award that to Luke Hewitt as Theodore Lent, who remained within the bounds of his character and never once tried to be more than Lent would be because he knew his character limits. This is a trait that I admire in an actor and certainly one that I saw in Hewitt.

The lights were beautifully designed and the sound was immaculately timed and perfected. This production is a visual wonder and gives a true insight into the unique space that is Studio Underground. A Perfect Specimen is the type of show to keep audiences intrigued with tales of family, normality and morality.

For more information, please visit the BSSTC website where you can find more about the show as well as book your tickets. Book tickets now as seats are filling up fast! A Perfect Specimen runs from the 30th of June until the 17th of July 2016 at Studio Underground, located at the State Theatre Centre of WA. This production is also running as part of the Winter Arts Festival 2016.

A warning that this production does contain adult themes and simulated sex as well as the use of smoke machines.

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When: 30th June- 17th July
Phone: (08) 6212 9200
Where: 174-176 William St, Perth WA 6000
Cost: $30- $50
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